One of the special joys in my life is my Bernese mountain dog named Misty. She is fluffy and adorable, and I love her so much. She is still a puppy, so sometimes she finds ways of causing trouble, but she always makes up for it in the end.
Sadly, my poor little puppy recently had to have a few routine operations. She was not happy about that trip to the vet. She was even less happy when the vet said that she had to wear a cone over her head to make sure that she did not try to disturb any of her incisions.
That cone presented so many problems in my poor puppy’s life. At first she had trouble figuring out how to eat her food and drink her water. Trying to pick up a treat off of the floor was impossible until she had spent a lot of time practicing. For days she only made failed attempts at playing with her toys. I’m certain that in the eyes of little Misty, that cone turned the world upside down.
There were two times during the mandatory weeks of wearing the cone when Misty got to have a taste of freedom. She was undergoing puppy training classes, and during those few short hours of class-time it was decided that it would be safe to take the cone off. Misty was absolutely ecstatic. Suddenly her world was all sunshine again. But then, of course, the cone had to go back on.
Every day of wearing the cone – especially every time the cone went back on after she had tasted freedom – I’m sure that little Misty felt like her former happiness had ended forever. She had no idea that in a few weeks she would be free and healed.
In the same way, when we are in a season of significant suffering, it tends to feel like our pain is going on forever. We wonder if what we are going through will ever end. We simply have no idea when the time of suffering will be up, and our “cone” will come off.
Yet, I’m reminded of the importance of being patient. I’m especially reminded of that lesson right now. The last few months have been darkened by some ongoing medical trouble (in addition to what I just considered to be routine), and as time has passed the physical pain I’ve been dealing with has gotten worse, not better. I do continue to hope helpful medical treatment may be found, yet there’s no way to be certain I’ll find relief. So, patiently I must wait. We all must wait, as we hang in there, like my little puppy had to do.
What does give me solid reassurance is knowing that there is someone who knows when relief will come. I knew how long my little Misty had to stay in her cone. The vet laid out exactly how long the cone was necessary as part of Misty’s heating process. In the same way, I believe in a God who can see more than I can see, even to the point of seeing all the way into my future. He knows exactly how long I must endure this pain, what complications I might face, and the purpose behind this lingering suffering. I can find comfort in trusting that at least he knows what’s going on, the same way that my puppy could find comfort anytime she chose to trust and seek consolation from me. In seasons when I’m quite confused and worn down by my troubles, I need hope like this.
I do hope that my relief comes soon. (In the short-term, while I’m waiting for some of that relief, please do forgive me if I do not manage to add new posts or keep up with comments promptly.) Whatever happens, and however long I have to “wear my cone,” my heart’s desire is to learn to endure and wait patiently. After all, I firmly believe that, not only is there meaning to what I’m facing, but there is also imminent relief, either in this life or the next. And as for you, if, as you read this, you are facing your own “cone”, I hope that you will hold on even if you don’t see any promise of relief in this moment. If you too are searching for meaning behind the difficult suffering you are experiencing, please find more of my scribblings on topics like this in the “about” section of this blog, or earlier posts.